Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Nazareth Guild’s first annual ‘Celebration of Light’ gala raises over $300,000 for Catholic schools

by Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

(From the October 18, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

A capacity crowd filled Gonzaga University’s McCarthey Athletic Center for the first annual “Celebration of Light” gala dinner hosted by the Nazareth Guild, in support of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Spokane. (IR photo courtesy of the Nazareth Guild)

The inaugural “Celebration of Light” dinner, sponsored by the Nazareth Guild in support of the diocese’s Catholic schools, “was an incredible success,” said Andy Robieaux, the Spokane Diocese’s Director of Development.

The Sept. 15 dinner, hosted by Gonzaga University at McCarthey Athletic Center, raised over $300,000 in pledges for Catholic schools in Eastern Washington.

The Guild looks forward “to making significant distributions to all 17 of our schools in December of this year,” said Robideaux.

Event organizers planned for 600, but last-minute attendees pushed the actual number to 614, Robideaux said.

The bulk of volunteers greeting and serving came from Gonzaga Prep, including Nick Van Helden and Karly Hamad, Prep seniors who served as emcees for the evening.

Entertainment was provided by the choirs from Gonzaga Prep and St. Aloysius School’s Mass choir.

The Ann Doherty Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed on Don Herak, a long-time and generous supporter of Catholic education in Eastern Washington. Herak is one of the founding members of the Nazareth Guild.

The award is named in honor of Ann Doherty, who served as principal of St. Thomas More School, Spokane, for over 20 years.

The goals of the Nazareth Guild are clear and ambitious: full enrollment for all schools, especially those serving the under-served and under-resourced; improve the schools’ financial stability; helping the schools continue their tradition of offering a “rigorous, relevant, value-instilled education,” said Robideaux.

The “Celebration of Light” included winners of an essay contest for Catholic school students, sponsored by the Nazareth Guild. The challenge: asking students to explore how their Catholic education has influenced them.

From 540 essays submitted by students from 1st-12th grades, four winners were chosen. Here are excerpts from the winning essays:

Primary Winners (First-Sixth grades)

First Place: Alison Courchaine, 5th Grade, St. John Vianney School, Spokane Valley.

I want to grow up to be like a civilized, well-raised, faithful young woman. I want to be the kind of woman who takes her children to church every Sunday. Because God made us brothers and sisters to each other, I treat everyone as if they were my brother and sister. Somewhere once, I read a short poem that read: “Ask and you will be answered, knock and the door will be opened, love and you will be loved.” I have asked, knocked, and loved. And in return, the Lord has answered me, opened the door for me, and loved me. Now it’s your turn: Are you ready to ask, knock, and love?

Second place: Julian Arias, 3rd Grade, Trinity School, Spokane.

Trinity Catholic School has prepared me to learn more about Jesus and to follow Jesus. I am a light to my brother and I don’t want to jeopardize that. It’s my responsibility to be a light. I think it’s tough to try to be good, but I want to show my brother and sister what is right. Being a light is important not just for you, but for others too.

Secondary Winners (Seventh-Twelfth grade)

Sally Whalen, 11th grade, Gonzaga Preparatory, Spokane.

We know that we can find God in all things, and this changes everything. We love and honor one another as God’s children and strive to spread His Word in every action. His light is alive in our every action. Our spreading of His Word does not always take on a thundering form. In our simple, daily actions, it can be quiet. But the power is the same. His light lives on through the stories we are creating each moment through our love for each other. We are living testaments of His Word. And that is the gift of Catholic education.

Second Place: Gabriel Sikora, 7th grade, St. Thomas More School, Spokane.

Catholic education makes a difference in your life. It can encourage you to help out, and to make the world a better place. My Catholic education has prepared me to follow Christ because it provides me with the support, guidance and faith that change is possible though my words and actions. It has opened my eyes and heart to the plight of others. It has encouraged me, my classmates, and my friends to make a difference in other people’s lives.

“Our students’ commitment to following the example of Christ is compelling and encouraging,” said Robideaux. “The essays clearly indicate that our schools are empowering students to be leaders in making the world better.”

(Contributions to the Nazareth Guild in support of Catholic schools in Eastern Washington may be mailed to: Nazareth Guild, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane, WA 99210.)


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